Pros / This device holds up to 6 quarts but only costs around $20.
Cons / The exterior gets hot.
Verdict / This inexpensive Hamilton Beach slow cooker provides delicious meals and is great for large groups, but it would have ranked higher if it were better designed.
Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it is no longer available. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
KitchenSmith by BELLA is a six-quart slow cooker that only costs $20, which makes this a perfect choice for large families on a budget. It retains a good deal of moisture when cooking, so your food won't dry out. However, the front, sides and lid get hotter than any other device in our comparison, so you will want to be careful when touching it and should make sure it is out of reach of little hands when cooking.
Our taste testers loved the beef stew this slow cooker created, stating that the meat was super flavorful and had great texture. One taste tester noted that the carrots actually had flavor to them instead of turning to mush, and the broth was excellent. We did note that during testing, this unit was the only one that made noise during the cooking process with the lid rattling and a small amount of hot water spluttering onto the counter. It also rattled and made noises when we conducted our water evaporation test. We aren't sure if this rattling is a common defect that you will find with all of these slow cookers or if it just happened to be something our particular unit did.
Even so, our evaporation tests showed that this device retained a good deal of moisture to prevent the food from drying out. It only lost 9 percent of its water during the high setting evaporation test and 10 percent of its water on the low setting evaporation test, making it one of the best devices to retain moisture.
KitchenSmith by BELLA should be handled with care as the hot surface can easily burn skin. When we measured the temperature of the exterior of the device, we were surprised to find that it was the hottest slow cooker in our comparison. The area above the settings knob measured 150 degrees, six degrees more than the next hottest slow cooker. The sides of the unit just below the handles measured at 195 degrees, which was 10 degrees hotter than the next hottest in our comparison.
To put this in perspective, we measured the Crock-Pot SCCPVL610 - the slow cooker with the coolest exterior – at 100 degrees in the front and 95 degrees near the handles.
Despite having a super-hot exterior, the side handles are cool enough to hold. With a six-quart capacity, this device can easily feed a group of 7 people or more.
You will find two recipes in this slow cooker's instruction manual. Should you lose the manual, you can also find the instructions and the recipes on Target's website, since this is a Target-exclusive item.
This is a more basic device, so it does not come with any additional accessories. The cord measures 27.5 inches long, making it one of the longest in our comparison. This means it will be easier to reach an outlet. It weighs 11.6 pounds with the lid on, which isn't very heavy for this particular size, but might require some help if you have to move it while hot food is cooking inside.
The manufacturer covers it with a two-year warranty, which is better than the average one-year warranty but still isn't the best coverage we've seen. Since the ceramic pot and glass lid are dishwasher safe, you can place them in your washer instead of hand washing them.
Unfortunately, this device doesn't offer a digital display or locking lid with rubber seal, so it isn't as easy to travel with. Additionally, if you want to change the setting to warm, you will have to do so manually, since the device will not do it automatically.